Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Iran Vote count

Ahmadinejad hails Iran vote, says enemy plots failed

Reuters — President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad hailed on Tuesday his re-election as a victory for the Iranian people and a defeat for the Islamic Republic's enemies.
The hardline president spoke a day after Iran's top legislative body confirmed he had won the June 12 election by a landslide and dismissed complaints of irregularities submitted by two defeated, pro-reform opponents.
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Ahmadinejad votes up after partial re-count

Iran Press TV — A random re-count of 10 percent of votes cast in Iran's June 12 elections results in a slight increase of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's votes in some cities.
After ballot boxes were randomly chosen and re-counted in the presence of the Guardian Council, interior ministry and district governor representatives, Ahmadinejad's votes increased in the province of Kerman, Fars news reported on Monday.
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Iran election: Mir-Hossein Mousavi tells supporters to keep protesting

UK Guardian — Mir-Hossein Mousavi, the leading challenger to Iran's President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, has issued a fresh call to his supporters to maintain peaceful protests after the government confirmed the result of the disputed election.
Mr Mousavi used a message on his website, which also appeared on Facebook, to renew his call for the cancellation of the election which gave incumbent hardliner a landslide victory.
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Monday, June 29, 2009

U.S. Troops Withdrawal

Iraq celebrates U.S. troops pullout under tight security measures

China View (Xinhua) — Iraqis prepared for a massive celebration in Baghdad on Monday as Iraqi security forces tightened security measures in Baghdad and others cities a day before the deadline of U.S. troops' withdrawal from cities and towns.
Baghdad mayoralty announced in a statement that a public party would be held at 6:00 p.m. (1500 GMT) at Baghdad's Zawraa Park, the biggest in the capital, to mark the "Day of National Sovereignty", as Iraqis named the June 30 date by which the U.S. troops would completely pull back from urban areas.
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Life after U.S. pullout brings worries for Iraqis

CNN — Sitting in his small room in northern Baghdad, a pistol nearby and assault rifles stacked under the bed, Khalil Ibrahim is worried over Iraq's future.
Six years after the U.S. invasion, Iraqis are contemplating the reality of life after a major milestone -- Tuesday's withdrawal of U.S. combat troops from urban centres.
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U.S. troops shift focus to rural Iraq

United Press International — U.S. combat troops, preparing to leave Iraqi cities on Tuesday, are working to secure rural areas officials say are hideouts for insurgents.
U.S. military officials said the shift is to prevent a revival of violence in Baghdad and other cities by augmenting security in less-populated areas where insurgents stash weapons and operate with greater freedom, USA Today reported Monday.
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Sunday, June 28, 2009

Coup in Honduras

Troops arrest Honduran president ahead of vote

Iran Press TV — More than a dozen soldiers have arrested Honduran President Manuel Zelaya and confiscated document from his mansion after disarming his security guards.
The detention on Sunday came just hours ahead of a planned poll on whether to change the constitution allowing him to extend his non-renewable four-year term in office due to expire in 2010.
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Arrest a coup, says Honduras leader

Guardian UK — Honduran President Manuel Zelaya said soldiers roused him from bed, beat his bodyguards and arrested him in his pyjamas in what he criticised as "a coup" and "a kidnapping".
Mr Zelaya told a local television station that he is at the airport in San Jose, capital of Costa Rica.
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Obama Calls for Order as Honduran Military Arrests President

FOX News — President Obama on Sunday called on all actors in Honduras to respect the rule of law after military leaders there arrested President Manuel Zelaya to head off Zelaya's attempt to hold a vote on constitutional changes deemed illegal by the country's Supreme Court and Congress.
Zelaya, in a move similar to his ally, Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, had wanted to overturn the law that prohibited him from seeking another term in office. He called the arrest a "coup" and a "kidnapping."
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Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Healthcare Reform

Most Want Health Reform But Fear Its Side Effects

Washington Post — A majority of Americans see government action as critical to controlling runaway health-care costs, but there is broad public anxiety about the potential impact of reform legislation and conflicting views about the types of fixes being proposed on Capitol Hill, according to a new Washington Post-ABC News poll.
Most respondents are "very concerned" that health-care reform would lead to higher costs, lower quality, fewer choices, a bigger deficit, diminished insurance coverage and more government bureaucracy. About six in 10 are at least somewhat worried about all of these factors, underscoring the challenges for lawmakers as they attempt to restructure the nation's $2.3 trillion health-care system.
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GOP Senator Pushes for Alternative Government-Funded 'Voucher' Health Care System

Fox News — As President Obama presses for swift passage of a health care reform bill, one Republican senator is pushing for an alternative proposal he claims will insure more Americans at half the time and cost. <
South Carolina Sen. JimDeMint is expected to discuss his "Health Care Freedom Plan" on Capitol Hill Wednesday as a counteroffensive to the president's measure -- a plan DeMint claims will limit Americans' choices and ration their care.
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Republicans raise $100K to counter government-run health insurance

Healthcare Finance News — Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele thanked grassroots Republicans in an e-mail Wednesday for helping the RNC raise more than $100,000 to advertise against "government-run healthcare."
The rally for funding came last week as Republicans vowed to fight what they consider unfair treatment by the media. GOP officials say they fear ABC's Wednesday night broadcast from the White House will skew the news to promote the Democrats' plan for health reform.
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Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Tobacco Bill

Occasional Smoker, 47, Signs Tobacco Bill

New York Times — President Obama does not discuss the fact that he still occasionally smokes, a habit he very publicly tried to kick during his race for the White House.
But there he was on Monday, talking about cigarettes. As he signed legislation bringing tobacco products under federal control for the first time, the president conceded that the new law, aimed at keeping children from starting to smoke, could have helped him three decades ago.
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Obama signs tobacco law, cites own struggle to quit smoking

L.A. Times — Citing his own experience as a teenage smoker, President Obama on Monday predicted that a new law giving the Food and Drug Administration sweeping power to regulate tobacco will help young people avoid the smoking habit he has struggled with for years.
The measure, which Obama signed into law Monday, will ban candy-, fruit- and spice-flavored cigarettes and prohibit use of tobacco-product logos and brand names in sponsoring athletic and entertainment events.
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President wants you to kick habit; but stuggles himself as a smoker

Fox News — Twice in as many weeks, President Obama has spoken out about the evils of smoking and heralded efforts to prevent kids from picking up the habit, but as far as the American public knows, Mr. Obama has yet to kick his own smoking habit.Mr. Obama didn't use either occasion - last week applauding the Congress for passing the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act or today at the Rose Garden bill signing -- to acknowledge and use his own habit as an example to the American public.
"I was one of these teenagers," Mr. Obama mentioned as he alluded to his past in his remarks today, "and so I know how difficult it can be to break this habit when it's been with you for a long time." But that was the only reference to his own experience.
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Monday, June 22, 2009

Pakistan army says in final phase of Swat offensive

Reuters India — Pakistan security forces are near the end of their offensive in the Swat valley, the army said on Monday, with more than 40,000 people on the move before the next phase starts against the Pakistani Taliban's headquarters.
The offensive in Swat, 120 km (80 miles) northwest of Islamabad, came after Taliban gains raised fears for the future of nuclear-armed Pakistan, a vital ally for the United States as it strives to defeat al Qaeda and stabilise Afghanistan.
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Thousands flee as Pakistan increases attacks on Taliban stronghold

Telegraph UK — Nearly two million people have fled fighting in northwest Pakistan, most since early May when the military began an offensive against Taliban insurgents in Swat Valley.
Army and intelligence officials have claimed that nearly 100 militants have been killed in South Waziristan since fighting erupted there last week.
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Pakistan faces challenge of cementing victory against Taliban

L. A. Times — The Pakistani army has exceeded expectations in its offensive against Taliban fighters in northwestern Pakistan, effectively marshaling arms, tactics and political support. But the tougher challenge will be preventing the extremists from returning, or from regrouping elsewhere.
"The key question is whether the army can hold the ground afterward," said Urmila Venugopalan, a South Asia expert with the defense analysis group Jane's.
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Friday, June 19, 2009

India Vs. Maoists

India steps up efforts to defeat Maoist rebellion

The Australian — INDIAN troops clashed with Maoists and tribal villagers in West Bengal yesterday in the second day of a major military operation to recapture a swath of the state.
As the state's Chief Minister, Buddhadheb Bhattacharya, met Prime Minister Manmohan Singh over the security crisis, extremists were said to be planning copycat surges in the neighbouring state of Jharkhand.
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India Appeals for Maoist Insurgents, Sympathizers to Engage in Dialogue

Voice of America — India's government is urging entrenched insurgents to lay down their weapons as troops advance towards them in West Bengal. The appeal comes after the federal government mobilized paramilitaries in the so-called "red corridor" in the eastern part of the country.
Operations by special paramilitary forces continue in the state of West Bengal. That is where Maoist insurgents vow not to be dislodged from territory they claim to have liberated from government control.
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Centre to Maoists: Lay down arms and come for talks

Indian Express — The Centre on Friday asked the Maoists in Lalgarh area of West Bengal to lay down arms and come for talks.
Home Minister P Chidambaram said he endorsed the appeal of West Bengal Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee to the Maoists and the tribals to come for talks.
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Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Iran Political Scene

Iran system seen resilient despite election rifts

Reuters — Iran's disputed election has exposed rifts in a political and religious elite facing its gravest internal challenge since the 1979 Islamic revolution, but the system is likely to survive, by fair means or foul.
"This is a critical point that will decide whether Iran can move a little bit more towards democracy or whether it will be brutally turned back to a sort of Islamic dictatorship," said Udo Steinbach, a Berlin-based Middle East scholar.
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Ahmadinejad stresses need for a new world order

Iran Press TV — Iran's President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad calls for the creation of a new world order in dealing with the many challenges arising in the international political arena.
"What we need now is a dramatic change in world political thought," said President Ahmadinejad in a Tuesday address to the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) in Moscow.
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Iran's internet-savvy youth sidestep the regime

London Guardian — Iran's draconian internet filtering is no match for young Iranians who are interconnected and politicised by virtual social networks
In October 1978, Ayatollah Khomeini, leader of the Islamic Revolution, ordered his supporters to stand atop their roofs and chant, Allahu Akbar or "God is great" to bring the masses onto the streets. For the first time since the mantra was then heard echoing through the streets of Tehran, Mir Hussein Mousavi, the self-declared president of the Islamic Republic of Iran, called for the same action. And, for the first time since the Iranian Revolution, a surge of popular outrage that has festered over 31 years brought many thousands of people onto the streets with the organisational power of the internet.
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Monday, June 15, 2009

Britain Opens Inquiry into Iraq War

Britain to Hold Independent Inquiry into Iraq War

Voice of America — British Prime Minister Gordon Brown has announced a broad, independent inquiry into the country's involvement in the Iraq war. But despite considerable pressure, Mr. Brown said the inquiry would not be held in public.
Speaking before the House of Commons, Mr. Brown said since British military operations in Iraq have ended, the time had come for a thorough inquiry into the war.
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Anger over UK probe into Iraq war

Aljazeera — Gordon Brown, the British prime minister, has been accused of staging a cover-up after he ruled that an inquiry into the UK's involvement in the US-led invasion of Iraq would be held in private.
Nick Clegg, the leader of the opposition Liberal Democrat party, said on Monday the war had been the "biggest foreign policy mistake this country has made in generations" and that Brown was "covering up the path" that led to it.
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Brown favors secrecy for Iraq war inquiry

United Press International — British Prime Minister Gordon Brown said Monday his country's Iraq war inquiry would be conducted in secret to allow for a full investigation.
The Times of London said Brown defended his secrecy position on the inquiry by saying private interviews and information-gathering would allow for more candid accounts while ensuring Britain's national security.
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Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Iran Election

Power of women in Iran's election

BBC — "I like to wear colours," declares 26-year-old Golnaz as we sit in a splendid tea room in a 17th century caravanserai. Her elegant orange head scarf falls from the crown of her head and sweeps across her shoulders.
"President Ahmadinejad isn't bothering us about our headscarves during the elections. But if he returns to power, it would be terrible," she moans, her voice rising with emphasis on the last word.
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In Iran Election, Tradition Competes With Web

Washington Post — Supporters of both leading candidates in this week's Iranian presidential election flocked to mass rallies here Monday, and the gatherings underscored the differences between the tactics of the two camps.
More than 100,000 backers of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad gathered in traditional fashion at a central mosque, arriving in buses organized by members of the baseej, Iran's voluntary paramilitary force. The crowds were so dense that Ahmadinejad's vehicle was unable to reach the stage.
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Once apathetic, young Iranians now say they'll vote

Christian Science Monitor — She did not vote in Iran's last election. Nor in the election before that. But the young Iranian law graduate, who once took pride in her distance from politics, says that Friday's presidential election is "different."
So every night for a week now, Tooska has headed out with friends after midnight and joined tens of thousands of other boisterous Iranians filling the streets of the capital to shout, honk, and chant their support for top challenger Mir Hossein Mousavi.
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Tuesday, June 9, 2009

NY Senate's Dramatic Change of Leadership

N.Y. Senate Goes Republican, Aided by Two Democrats

Bloomberg — Republicans reclaimed control of the New York state Senate with help from two Democrats, who rebelled against a $131.8 billion budget they said was negotiated in secret.
Pedro Espada from the Bronx and Hiram Monserrate from Queens sided with 30 Republicans on key votes to change the Senate’s leadership. Democrats immediately challenged the claim and described the action as illegal. Governor David Paterson called it “despicable.”
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Smith calls coup illegal, says 'I'm still Majority Leader'

Examiner — Speaking at an Albany news conference moments ago, State Senate Democratic Leader Malcolm A. Smith said that he is still the Majority Leader.
Smith maintains that the Senate had been adjourned at the time that the coup to oust him and as such was illegal.
"Let me be very clear, I am the Majority Leader of the New York State Senate," said a defiant Smith, flanked by his Democratic Colleauges.
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Gershman: If Dems Have an Ace, They’d Better Play It Fast

New York Magazine — After one of the most shocking displays of Machiavellian politics in a statehouse awash with plots and conspiracy — when Democrats Hiram Monserrate and Pedro Espada helped Republicans take back control of the New York State Senate — it would not have been surprising if fistfights had broken out at the Italian Community Center near Albany, where Republican and Democratic lawmakers gathered last night for a fund-raiser. The eight-piece band, sensing trouble, tried to soothe tensions with Italian favorites like "O Sole Mio." "We didn't want to play anything that would egg them on," said the drummer. The Senate Democrats who showed up huddled and drank together, while Republicans dug into hot pizza and meatballs. The Democrats left early without incident.
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Monday, June 8, 2009

Gabon's Leader Dead?

Gabon's leader Bongo dead at 73

BBC — President of Gabon Omar Bongo - Africa's longest serving leader - has died aged 73.
His death was confirmed by the country's Prime Minister Jean Eyeghe Ndong in a written statement.
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Bongo not dead, Gabon's PM says

CNN — Gabon's President Omar Bongo, Africa's longest-serving ruler, is not dead, the country's prime minister said Monday, contradicting reports from Gabonese and French media.
Prime Minister Jean Eyeghe Ndong "deplored" French media reports that Bongo had died, saying he had met the president Monday morning.
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Gabon: Omar Bongo is dead, long live France-Afrique?

Afrik — According to French government sources, Gobonese President Omar Bongo passed away Sunday June 7, 2009 after 41 years in power. With his passing, an era of Franco-African relations comes to a screeching halt. It would come as no surprise that many would welcome his inability to do a proper hand over to ensure continuity. Others will surely be biting their lips. An epilogue of an African saga.
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Sunday, June 7, 2009

Implications of a Nuclear North Korea

S.Korea says no compromise against North's threats

Reuters — South Korea will not back down to communist North Korea after it raised global concerns last week with a defiant nuclear test and threats to attack its capitalist neighbour, the South's president said on Saturday.
The U.N. Security Council is looking to punish the reclusive North for its nuclear test which drew international condemnation, while a South Korean daily said U.S. officials are moving to clamp down on the impoverished state's meagre international finances.
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U.S. to Defend South Korea Against Nuclear North, Yonhap Says

Bloomberg — The U.S. has agreed to guarantee South Korea’s defense, in writing, against a nuclear-armed North, Yonhap News reported, citing South Korea’s foreign minister.
The written guarantee will be provided on June 16 when South Korean President Lee Myung Bak meets with his U.S. counterpart in Washington, according to the report. The comment came as the minister, Yu Myung Hwan, explained the outcome of his meeting with U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in Washington, Yonhap said.
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Alaskans concerned about North Korea's missiles

Associated Press — Alaskans are concerned over the prospect that North Korea is getting ready to test a long-range missile that could reach strategic targets in their home state.
And they're not buying Defense Secretary Robert Gates' assertion during a visit this past week to one of Alaska's many military installations that the missile is not a threat to the United States.
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Saturday, June 6, 2009

Dutch in the EU elections

Dutch lean to anti-EU party

The Age Australia — THE Freedom Party of Geert Wilders, the Dutch MP who made a film linking the Koran to violence, may become the Netherlands' second-largest party in the European Parliament.
Mr Wilders' Freedom Party may have received 15.3 per cent of the votes, or four seats, as it participated in the European polls for the first time, exit polls indicated. Mr Wilders seeks to reduce European Union influence, curb immigration and reject Turkey's membership in the bloc.
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EU to probe Dutch release of EU election results

Taiwan News — The European Commission says it is demanding the Netherlands explain why it released national results for European elections before other EU nations finished voting.
EU spokesman Amadeu Altafaj Tardio says the publication of unofficial Dutch late Thursday did "not comply with the spirit" of the EU vote.
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Dutch anti-Islamic party makes gains in EU poll

Agence France Presse — EU parliamentary elections hit turbulence Friday after prematurely published Dutch results confirmed fears of voter apathy and extremist gains and Britain's prime minister sought damage control.
As the world's biggest transnational vote gathered pace, with Czech and Irish voters going to the polls on day two, embattled British Prime Minister Gordon Brown was already licking his wounds.
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Friday, June 5, 2009

Obama Speaks in Cairo

World Reaction Mixed On Obama's Cairo Speech

Voice of America — President Obama's much anticipated speech to Muslims was watched by people of all faiths around the world. The reaction ranges from praises for a new beginning in Muslim-American relations to skepticism about setting words to action.
From the Gaza Strip to Kabul to Washington, D.C., the world held its breath as President Obama made his historic speech to the Muslim world. "I've come here to Cairo to seek a new beginning between the United States and Muslims around the world," he said.
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Muslim Americans find inspiration in Obama's speech

L.A. Times — Reporting from Los Angeles and Fort Wayne, Ind. -- In Los Angeles, Salam Al-Marayati found himself smiling as he watched President Obama enumerate Muslim contributions to civilization and to the United States.
In Dearborn, Mich., home to the nation's largest Arab American community, leaders quietly cheered Obama's speech in Cairo, hoping it would usher in new American attitudes toward them.
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President's words worry supporters of Israel

Washington Times — During a major address in Egypt on Thursday, President Obama reached out in friendship to Muslims around the world and distanced himself from Israeli policies more than any other president in decades.
Although Mr. Obama said the U.S. bond with Israel is "unbreakable," analysts pointed to subtle but significant shifts in language that indicated that Mr. Obama was not in lock step with the Israeli government on issues including Iran and Palestinian grievances.
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Thursday, June 4, 2009

Obama speaks to muslim world

Israel praises Obama, says its security paramount

REuters — The Israeli government responded to U.S. President Barack Obama's speech to Muslims on Thursday by saying it shared his hopes for Middle East peace but Israel's security interests remained paramount.
"We share President Obama's hope that the American effort heralds the opening of a new era that will bring an end to the conflict and to general Arab recognition of Israel as the nation of the Jewish people that lives in security and peace in the Middle East," an official statement said.
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In speech to Muslims, Obama rejects Israeli settlements

Miami Herald — President Barack Obama, courting Muslims internationally, said Thursday that the United States didn't accept the legitimacy of Israeli settlements in Palestinian territory and that "just as Israel's right to exist cannot be denied, neither can Palestine's."
In a speech he conceived well before he was elected last November - aimed at repositioning U.S. standing in the Middle East in the wake of the Iraq war and drafted with the help of prominent Muslim-Americans - Obama told an audience at Cairo University that "I have come here to seek a new beginning between the United States and Muslims around the world."
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Al-Qaeda deputy denounces Obama

BBC — A message attributed to the deputy leader of al-Qaeda has denounced Barack Obama as a "criminal" on the eve of the US president's Middle East trip.
Ayman al-Zawahiri said Mr Obama's "bloody messages" would not be concealed by "polished words".
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Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Sotomayor Heads Toward Confirmation Hearings

Sotomayor, senators make nice -- for now1st headline

L.A. Times — Judge Sonia Sotomayor sought to defuse the issue of race today as she met with top senators on both sides of the aisle, her first step to woo the people who will vote on whether she is confirmed to fill a seat on the U.S. Supreme Court.
For Sotomayor, it was a day of meeting with top lawmakers in the Capitol, especially those on the Senate Judiciary Committee, the first hurdle in her campaign to move from the federal appellate circuit court to the nation's high court.
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Sotomayor May Have Some Unlikely Allies on Gun Issue (Update3)

Bloomberg — Judge Sonia Sotomayor’s best defense against firearms owners mobilizing to oppose her U.S. Supreme Court nomination may come from an unlikely source: two top conservatives on the federal bench.
Sotomayor was labeled “anti-gun” by Gun Owners of America for refusing to extend to the states the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2008 decision overturning a Washington, D.C., handgun ban. The group said a January ruling by a three-judge panel that included Sotomayor displayed “pure judicial arrogance” for declining to throw out a New York state weapons law.
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Majority of Americans Favor Sotomayor Confirmation

Gallup — Americans are generally supportive of President Barack Obama's nomination of Judge Sonia Sotomayor to the U.S. Supreme Court. A majority of Americans, 54%, say they would like to see the Senate confirm her to the Court, according to a May 29-31 USA Today/Gallup poll. Currently, 28% are against her confirmation and 19% have not yet formed an opinion.
The level of support for Sotomayor is similar to what Gallup initially found for past nominees who were confirmed by the Senate, including Clarence Thomas, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, and Samuel Alito. Americans were slightly more positive toward John Roberts' nomination.
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Monday, June 1, 2009

Abortion Doctor Shot In Church

Suspect held in abortion doctor's slaying

San Francisco Chronicle — Dr. George Tiller - one of the few U.S. physicians who performed late-term abortions and long a target of violent extremists as well as principled opponents - was shot and killed Sunday in the lobby of his church.
A 51-year-old suspect, identified by sheriff's deputies as Scott Roeder, was arrested three hours after the shooting in a Kansas City suburb about 170 miles from Wichita. Police said he would likely be charged today with one count of murder and two counts of aggravated assault.
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Political backlash expected from Tiller’s shooting

Kansas City Star — The bullet that killed George Tiller on Sunday did what lawmakers, prosecutors and grassroots activists never could: end the career of the nation’s most prominent abortion provider.
But those who long fought against Tiller’s work now worry Sunday’s act of vigilantism will set back efforts to restrict abortion and will poison the debate — possibly for years.
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Abortion provider was accustomed to threats

USA Today — George Tiller, who was murdered in his church Sunday, had aborted tens of thousands of fetuses since the 1970s and believed in what he was doing.
"There was something unique about Dr. Tiller," said Nancy Northup, president of the Center for Reproductive Rights in New York.
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